The theme of the UNHCR NGO Consultations in 2016 was ‘youth’. In the lead-up to the NGO Consultations, a series of consultations were held with young people around the world under the banner of the Global Refugee Youth Consultations (GRYC). As part of the GRYC process, RCOA collaborated with the Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network (MYAN) Australia.
Additionally, with the support of a range of organisations in Australia, RCOA and MYAN were able to support four young advocates to participate in the GRYC and NGO Consultations. The John Gibson Refugee Community Leadership Grant was therefore incorporated into this funding for the selected youth advocates. The four recipients were Arash Bordbar, Arif Hazara, Elizabeth Lang and Sarah Yahya.
Arash Bordbar arrived in Australia following five years in a refugee camp in Malaysia, after fleeing Iran with his family. He is dedicated to fighting for education for refugees; during his long period awaiting resettlement, Arash worked with a top university to establish the first ever refugee-only education centre in that country. Moreover, he is a strong advocate for refugee youth’s sexual rights (LGBTI) and gender equality. Since attending the UN, Arash has participated in the UN High Commissioners Dialogue and has been appointed Deputy Chair of the APRRN (Asia Pacific Refuge Rights Network) Youth Working Group. He was awarded the Young People’s Human Rights Medal by the Australian Human Rights Commission, in recognition of his achievements.
Arash was selected as the ATCR community representative in 2017.
Arif Hazara, an ethnic Hazara refugee from Afghanistan, came to Australia as a young asylum seeker in 2011. Arif is an active advocate for the rights of refugee youth. He has represented the interests of young refugees at a range of forums, and is a member of the Refugee Communities Advocacy Network (RCAN) as well as the Refugee Council of Australia’s Face-to-Face program. He has also undertaken advisory roles to ensure that the voices of young migrants are heard in the decisions that affect them. He has spoken on radio and produced documentaries with the aim of promoting a humanitarian approach to immigration.
Originally from South Sudan, Elizabeth Lang migrated to Australia with her family in 1998. Elizabeth has been an ardent campaigner for human rights, with seven years’ experience in the community development sector. Her areas of interest include refugee settlement, domestic and family violence prevention and trauma-informed community development. As a passionate public speaker, Elizabeth has presented on panels, forums and conferences in Australia and internationally. She works at ASeTTS as a Research Officer and at Curtin University of Technology as a Sessional Academic (2017). In addition, she is undertaking a doctorate at Curtin University, with the Department of Social Sciences and Security Studies. As well as participating in the NGO Consultations, Elizabeth represented Australia as a community representative at the Annual Tripartite Consultations on Resettlement (ATCR).
Sarah Yahya was born in Iraq belonging to the minority religion Mandaeanism. In 2000, she left the country for Jordan, where she lived for almost seven years before being resettled in Australia. She is now studying Journalism and International Studies at the University of Technology Sydney (2017). Sarah has been a passionate advocate for migrant youth, leading the Mandaen Youth Committee and acting as a Youth Ambassador to the Multicultural Youth Network Australia and New South Wales. She has undertaken projects with Settlement Services International’s Youth Collective, and as of 2017, was a youth councillor for Liverpool City Council. In 2015, Sarah was awarded the Multicultural Youth Premier’s Youth Medal and Rotary’s Young Citizen of the Year, in recognition of her contribution.